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Liveability and urban mobility

Liveability & urban mobility is all about making clean cities pleasant and welcoming place to live. This article tells you more.
A sign on a pole. There is a green image of a person on a bike with the words “Bike Lane”.

Sustainable living is one of the main goals of all cities and is recognised and rewarded by the European Commission. Cities are striving to add more green and lessen the number of cars. Furthermore, governments are encouraging the usage of bikes and public transport, along with shared vehicles and electric vehicles.

Old parking spaces are converted to green areas

When wanting to make a city more liveable, most cities strive to protect the green areas within the city or even add more green in the form of parks and green roofs. In some cities, such as Amsterdam, a resident can be subsidised for creating a green roof. A trend in Europe seems to be to cut down on on-street parking spaces and use this room for liveability. Old parking spaces are converted to green areas or used as parking for (electric) bikes. Amsterdam, for example, is planning to get rid of 11 000 on-street parking spots in its city centre according to new city plans.

Fewer cars equal less emissions

In multiple cities, the usage of a car is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to use. The ease for a car user is declining quite a bit. Besides the previously mentioned lessening of the number of parking spaces, parking is becoming more expensive. In certain European cities, parking your car can cost up to €7.5 per hour.

Besides the parking costs, car costs and parking problems, some cities strive towards a car-free city centre, such as in The Hague & Oslo, or will put restrictions on the cars which are allowed into the city centre. In Paris, for example, cars are not allowed into the city if air pollution is too high. In Brussels, however, less environment-friendly cars are not allowed in the city centre at all. In these low emission zones (LEZ), it is often required to have a sticker on the car which lets the authorities know if your car meets the eco-friendly requirements, and thus if you are allowed into the zone.

Increase of bike lanes & reduction in public transport fares

Luckily, whilst car mobility gets restricted, European countries are compensating by making their public transport more accessible. They do this by laying the focus on public transport infrastructure and by reducing fares substantially. A lot of cities have opted for either free or reduced rates on public transport and more people started using this means of transportation. Additionally, public transport is becoming more customer-centred and data-driven, resulting in a more positive experience and thus will likely result in a continuing increase in users in the coming years.

Furthermore, developing bike plans for cities is a higher priority. This is noticeable in both Europe and in the US, where more cities are including bike plans in their logistics. You will see an increase in bike lanes and bike usage and more rules concerning safety for both bikes and cars. Not only will the number of bike lanes grow, but the number of parking spaces for bikes will also have to be considered.

Shared vehicles

Besides public transport, shared vehicles are encouraged as a way to save on the cost/emissions of the production of vehicles and also on the overall emissions of vehicles on the road. Bike-sharing and ride-sharing are popular in China and other Southeast Asian countries. In 2017 Lisbon launched a bike-sharing scheme, with electric bikes to encourage cycling in the hillier parts of the city. You can find increased examples of ride-sharing and car-sharing platforms throughout Europe. And in the Netherlands and the US, you can find carpool lanes for cars which carry multiple people.

Electric vehicles

Whilst shared/public transport is booming and cars powered by fossil fuels are experiencing a steady decrease in sales, the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are rising. In Norway, this is certainly the case as almost one-third of all car sales in 2018 were electric vehicles. In most countries, however, EVs and their sales are still in the early stages. Given that the purchase of an EV is often subsidised and that polluting vehicles are discouraged in an increasing number of cities, these measures will most likely result in more people buying an EV. A recent study, for example, showed that electric cars are already cheaper to own than regular cars. Some companies are already facilitating the EV movement by letting EV owners know where to find (off-street) electric parking designated for EVs and where to find charging stations.

You have now learned more about liveability & urban mobility, now let’s read about some success stories.

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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